Time Magazine’s list of the world’s most influential people is filled with brilliant thinkers, powerful leaders, and talented artists. All of these people have done something remarkable to leave their impact on the world. My greatest inspiration, however, does not come from a world-renowned political figure; it comes from the heart and perseverance of a 6-year-old boy.
It is mid July, and most soon to be high school sophomores are tanning at the beach and enjoying their days off from school. I am not one of these sun bathing high school students; instead, I have devoted the entire day and countless hours to making sure this event runs flawlessly.
After an entire day of golfing and festivities, I am standing at the podium handing out raffle prizes to their lucky recipients. I look out into the crowd of golfers and see musicians, lawyers, doctors and architects, all gathered for one common cause: Ryan. He looks up at me with his sparkling little eyes and smiles, and I know that this is his way of thanking me for devoting this day to helping his cause. In that moment, though, I realized something important : he should not be thanking me, I should be thanking him.
My cousin, Ryan, was diagnosed with Autism five years ago. His diagnosis sparked an immediate sense of confusion over what the word “Autism” actually meant, and what his future would mean because of it. Although at first I was too young to understand the meaning behind the word, I now know what Autism has brought to my life. Ryan has showed me an outlook on the world that nobody ever has before, and the fact that he is not even ten years old makes the journey even more incredible.
Saying that Ryan works hard is an understatement. His days are filled with hours of school and therapy in which he tries immensely even to make the smallest amount of progress. I try to put a little bit of Ryan into my every day life. Whenever I am faced with something that seems impossible, I think of him and how he is making progress every day despite the struggles his disorder inflicts upon him. The most amazing part is that he is not even aware of how hard he is working. I am sure that even some of the most successful people in the world do not work as hard as my cousin Ryan does. In the past six years, I have learned that perseverance is necessary in order to achieve all of my goals, and that things that seem out of my reach may not be so far away after all.
Ryan has taught me another important lesson: people should not be judged for things that they cannot control. As a high school student, I witness acts of cruelty against those who are different on a daily basis. Ryan is a prime example of how people who may be different are still just as worthy as everyone else. Since his diagnosis, I have stopped judging people and tried to get others around me to do the same. Ryan would never dislike somebody because he didn’t like the way they looked or dressed. He welcomes all people into his life as long as they want him in theirs, and I pride myself on the fact that I have learned to do the same. Maybe Time Magazine should consider adding a new name to their list.
This is an essay i wrote to use as my personal statement when applying for college. Tell me what you think! 🙂